Simple Life Series : 3 Things to Implement to Ensure Maximum Learning.
Over the course of the 2016-2017 year, a dozen teachers were informally observed as they planned, taught, and reflected upon their lessons. Some teachers struggled with the basic tasks of classroom management, transitions between tasks, maximizing student collaboration, and facilitating student learning. While other teachers were seamless from one task to another.
This lead to the question of: What are the seamless teachers doing differently than the teachers who struggled? Upon closer inspection of the informal data, three themes emerged among the group of teachers who had greater student success:
It’s perfectly natural when developing a lesson plan or a course outline, to frontload and information dump everything onto your students. After all, they are here and it’s vital that they know everything. It would be sacrilegious and detrimental to their learning if a single morsel of information was left out. Right?
Too much frontloading and too much information dump can be detrimental to learning the objective you’ve set out for them to learn in the first place. Let’s break down the three categories and illustrate how you can go back to your drawing board to make the proper edits to ensure that you are maximizing your students learning.
When you’re creating your presentation, workshop, online course, or class, it’s important to check for what I call “white space”. The white space allows your students the chance to breathe and to process the information they are learning. Where does this white space come from? It comes from starting out with a clear goal or learning target. When you first develop your lesson, it’s okay to dump all the information onto the paper before you. That’s the beauty of rough drafts. Once you have gotten that out of your system, take a step back – with a highlighter in your hand and ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want my students to know when they walk away from this lesson?
- What information will allow them to critically think?
- What information will allow learners to implement once they have left the classroom?
If the information you have aligns and supports the 3 questions above – highlight it! When you are clear with your goals, your students will be able to succeed. Clear goals and learning targets allow students to focus on higher level tasks and step into the path towards mastery.
Remember – less is more.
Why does having clear goals help with classroom management and success? When students are engaged, they have little time to step off the path. After all, if they are thinking, implementing, and innovating – most of their attention is focused in a positive direction.
A Sense of Balance
When students feel their time is being wasted, they will act out in inappropriate ways. This can prove frustrating to teachers. Additionally, when there is imbalance, the impact of student learning can be felt and results in chaos all around. In response to the chaos, the teacher feels the need to incorporate MORE work into the class time in a desperate attempt to minimize disruption.
The result of this is lower student performance and more work for you. This is the opposite of what you want. Take a step back and ask yourself: Are you filling their time with meaningful activities that will allow them to step into their full potential? Or are you just giving them work for the sake of giving the work to save your sanity (and prevent you from pulling your hair out)?
When you give your student a sense of balance in the following ways, you allow your students step out of the arena of feeling confused, dread, resistant, powerless and unmotivated, and into the space of clarity, excitement, power, and drive:
- Clear directions
- Engage – How can I engage the learner?
- Explore – What can the learner do in a group to discover and make sense of the information on their own?
- Explain – How can the learner articulate what is expected of them or demonstrate what the learning goal is?
- Elaborate – How can the learner cross-pollinate their ideas with others? How can they gain new experiences that will deepen their level of understanding?
- Evaluate – How will learners assess their own learning to demonstrate learning goal mastery?
(For more information on this constructivist approach of the 5 E’s instructional model, click here.)
Having a sense of balance in your classroom will allow for increased productivity and a much more manageable classroom setting.
Moments of Reflection
The teachers I observed that struggled with their students did not give them ample time to step back from their work and reflect. It’s important to allow periods of time for students to take a moment of solitude to process all the information that comes at them. Reflection, whether it is solitary or group, teaches the learner to have patience and gives them a chance to process all that they have learned.
Ask your leaners to take a 3-minute reflection moment and answer the following questions:
- What have I learned up this point and how does it help me master the learning goal?
- How does the task I’m working on right now help me get to the next level of my learning?
- What am I not understanding? How can I ask the person next to me to explain it to me?
These types of questions empower the student to stay on task and learn a critical skill set of reflecting on what is working and what is not, and how they can improve.
So, take some time to simplify your life with these three tips.
Until next time,
Dr. Melissa Halstead is a Knowledge Leverage Expert. She works with somewhat successful self-employed professionals and very small businesses who struggle to leverage their knowledge effectively and need to monetize their message consistently, without pushing so hard.
What separates her service from other business coaches is that she ONLY works with C-Level executives, coaches, speakers, self-employed businesses and she ONLY specialize in leveraging their knowledge and monetizing their knowledge, nothing else. Because of this, her clients receive proven, undiluted, and extremely specific step-by-step information on exactly what they need to do to leverage their knowledge. As a result, those who coach with her get their message in front of the right audience, and infuse more cash into their business than they would on their own.
Would you like to know more? Reach out to Dr. Melissa Halstead on Twitter, FB, or LinkedIn.
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